From a series of letters to the artists of Flutgraben Performances Season #2 during the Corona pandemic in 2020
With regards to your notion of “split attention” I felt that I would like to add a few words about my own moving practice that I am working on together with Sandra for some years now, most recently in the piece “Chora” together with a group of twelve dancers. We are working on the idea of splitting, or rather spreading each dancer’s sensory attention to at least two different sensing “antennas” at a time, using this as a source for movement as well as to allow for a specific relation of audience and performers. It’s one of the key concepts of the relational moving practice we call space choreography. This could be for instance a co-dancer’s body part´s movement together with the nearby sound of breathing of yet another body, or being present in your back and feeling the space between yourself and a watching audience member behind while at the same time allowing someone in front of you to look into your eyes. Or feeling the weight of the ground my feet are standing on while at the same time receiving a distant moving body’s trajectory, etc. In every case it requires to stay truly present with my body in both sensory perceptions, and let myself be moved by and between these “anchor points”. By “being moved” I mean both on the level of locomotion in space as well as affecting the specific qualities of a movement.
This receptivity is not directed towards thoughts or motivations from the inside but is only fed by an outside. It is an attention that is trained to receive from more than one direction, ie. while devoting yourself to an incoming sensation you already include another one – a bit like jumping from liana to liana without hesitating, in order to not fall down. A stream of relations is passing through you, entering, pervading, moving you, thereby creating an ongoing flow of movements between your body and the other bodies in a space.
We explored this practice on our search for a specific quality of a movement that is not prefigured by consciousness, neither building shapes nor composing images. It’s a movement that is based on the spontaneity of its emergence in space, and made possible by your body’s and co-bodies’ receptive availability. Therefore our development process for a work is always based on training sessions and scenarios, rather than rehearsing or repeating given sequences, patterns or forms. We practice receiving with our antennas, and at the same time emitting to others. It is a sensitivity in two directions. This has to be practised regularly in order to intensify and maintain your simultaneous sensing abilities over time as well as to learn how to let this awareness affect your body in interplay with other bodies, moving you and moving through you.
When a group of dancers – or as we call it, a space chorus – who are proficient in this practice is moving with each other, their movements remind me of solar prominences or waves in a river: rising out of and sinking back into a fundamental choral motion process that is growing out of a harmonic multitude of movements. I call this a flow. While its individual movements might (and at some point have to) stop from time to time, the flow is still moving on. There is no center and no total ending in this movement, but always something turning into something else, someone affecting someone else, somewhere relations building up to somewhere else. If spectators are present in this space they will also become sources for the ongoing movements, their bodies also become emitting antennas. And at some point they may also experience their antennas as receivers – becoming recipients of the sensation of being pervaded, being danced in an encompassing, permeable choral landscape.
A flow can only reach and maintain this state of “infinite motion” if each dancer who contributes to it does not stop drawing their movement from more than one receptor, keeping their own as well as the overall movement in a symbiotic flux that is related to each other. That’s why we are practising a lot with what we call “open trios” – the “trio” is accentuating a stable relation of belonging together, the “open” highlights the necessity of staying receptive without being drawn into a closed circuit. The trio is the smallest vital “molecule” for this practice as each body here has at least two reference bodies, therefore always relating to more than one other. The trio must not be seen as isolated but is always listening to its environment. This means it has at some point to even jeopardise its cohesion as a trio, while at the same time trusting in its own resilience. It’s this trust that allows the dancing trio to move in an elastic exchange with its surroundings without dissolving into irreversible individualities. It is very important for the dancers, on their individual body’s level as well as on that of the trio, to keep their movement in contact with their spatial and physical environment, to always be prepared for the upcoming moment and yet unknown directions, without trying to control or fix a movement, which might cut it off from its surroundings. Within this practice no movement persists in isolation for its own sake but is only born in and grows out of the relations to all present bodies. It owes its momentum to its absolute devotion to ever new encounters in a shared, relational dancing space.
17 May 2020